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Engaging Aging

Memories are made of this…

Smurfit Kappa UK assists research into memory loss and rehabilitation with specialist packaging stimulus

In a groundbreaking project bringing together some of the leading minds from Sheffield Hallam University, their on-site packaging consultancy, Design Futures, and an expert packaging design team from Smurfit Kappa UK, a unique brief to aid and rehabilitate patients suffering from memory loss has been solved.

The project titled ‘EngagingAging’ was originally developed at The Museum for Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan, and featured in the “EngagingAging” 2010 exhibition, which focused on the theme of ageing and identity, and which then travelled to London.

The project under the leadership of Professor Paul Chamberlain, head of Art and Design Research at Sheffield Hallam University, represents an international collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University in the UK and Chang Gung University in Taiwan and forms part of a much larger research project comparing the experiences of people growing older in Taiwan with those of individuals in the UK.

As part of the project Smurfit Kappa UK was engaged to produce a box that would act as both a stimulation aid for patients suffering with memory loss and as a tool for research into younger generations focusing on issues of identity. 

The resulting product was dubbed, “The Dream and Memory Box” and is used by younger participants to collect objects representing their dreams of the future, whilst elderly people collected objects that represented their memories.  The main requirements were that the box had to be easy to assemble, feature multiple compartments and to be accessible for children and patients with limited physical dexterity.  Commercially, “The Dream and Memory Box” also had to be cost-effective, recyclable, made of high quality, sturdy corrugated board, and easy to ship.

The project is the first time that Smurfit Kappa has been asked to participate in a medical research project and as packaging experts that have for many years, led the way in packaging innovation and developing state-of-the-art technology they were the obvious choice of partner. Smurfit Kappa specified a box constructed of EB flute which provides strength but is also lightweight for ease of transportation (boxes are flat packed in transit) and the product is also 100% recyclable so eco-friendly and a sustainable alternative to other materials. After much consultation and liaison with both Sheffield Hallam University and the team in Taiwan, Smurfit Kappa’s expertise has created a new purpose for corrugated cartons in the aiding of research and recovery in patients. 

The brief was met on time and under budget, and research findings have already proved “The Dream and Memory Box” to be a valuable therapy method to assist in the healthcare sector.  The product is set to take off and the aim is to promote the box as the industry standard for memory related therapies.  Claire Craig, an occupational therapist involved heavily with the project both in Taiwan and in the UK was thrilled with the results and spoke of Smurfit Kappa’s work highly.  She comments, “The boxes’ careful and intricate construction meant that they were seen as things of beauty and treasured because of that.  The quality of the product was key as it carried important messages in relation to how older people are valued.”

Peter MacQueen, of Design Futures, Sheffield Hallam University was also pleased to have Smurfit Kappa as the project’s packaging partner, “Working with Smurfit Kappa on this project was highly refreshing.  Despite the box’s unconventional use, we were helped and consulted at every stage.  This allowed us to create a solution that quite simply didn’t exist anywhere else in the market – but without restrictive costs normally associated with this kind of development work.”